An alleged ally of embattled deputy national director of public prosecutions Nomgcobo Jiba was caught clandestinely communicating with Durban business tycoon Thoshan Panday — the main suspect in a Hawks probe on which he was an investigator — the Zondo commission heard on Wednesday.
Former KwaZulu-Natal Hawks head Johan Booysen told the commission, chaired by Deputy Chief Raymond Zondo, crime intelligence intercepted a phone call between Hawks investigator Welcome ‘WS’ Mhlongo and Panday amid a fraud investigation against the businessman.
Booysen alleged on Wednesday that Mhlongo was the only person who could have told Panday about the whereabouts of certain exhibits relating to the investigation into him.
Panday was being investigated by the Hawks for fraud relating to R60-million worth of contracts between the South African Police Service (SAPS) and his company Gold Coast Trading during the 2010 Fifa World Cup. The company had seemingly “drastically inflated” the cost of mattresses, blankets and accommodation procured by SAPS, Booysen said.
Booysen noted that Mhlongo has been linked to Jiba. He added that it was “common cause” that Mhlongo had a close relationship with the later director of public prosecutions (DPP) of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) in KwaZulu-Natal, Moipone Noko.
Mhlongo has been accused of helping Jiba collect “dirt” on Mxolisi Nxasana, who had at the time recently been appointed the national director of public prosecutions (NDPP).
In a 2013 affidavit, NPA security official Terence Joubert tells of how Nxasana was investigated, allegedly prompted by Jiba and aimed at bringing about his removal from office.
Joubert alleged that Mhlongo had come to him shortly after a meeting with Jiba “and told me that the new guy [Nxasana] does not like Adv Jiba and Adv Mrwebi”.
“Mhlongo assured me that their efforts would not be in vain as Jiba had said if this man [Nxasana] is removed, then she would be appointed again.”
Nxasana laid criminal charges of perjury against Jiba, flowing from statements she made under oath in the course of attempting to prosecute Booysen for racketeering.
In correspondence, Nxasana told then president Jacob Zuma: “As early as October 2013, I was provided with two affidavits from two NPA employees confirming that they had been approached by Colonel Welcome ‘WS’ Mhlongo, a member of the Hawks, for information about me.”
“One of them provided a voice recording in which Colonel Mhlongo is heard to confirm that he was acting on the authority of deputy NDPP Nomgcobo Jiba to collect information about me to discredit me.”
Mhlongo has previously denied the allegations.
Jiba was cross-examined on her authorisation of the racketeering prosecution of Booysen in 2012 before the Mokgoro inquiry into whether she is fit for her post at the NPA. It is expected that Booysen’s Zondo commission testimony will also deal with the racketeering charges.
The racketeering charges related to the so-called “Cato Manor death squad”. The Durban organised crime unit, whose office was in Cato Manor, was accused of having carried out the “extra-judicial killings” of 28 people.
In an affidavit to the inquiry — chaired by retired Constitutional Court Justice Yvonne Mokgoro — Booysen alleged that Jiba exerted pressure on then director of public prosecutions in KwaZulu-Natal, Simphiwe Mlotshwa, to sign an indictment to prosecute him for racketeering.
According to Booysen, Mlotshwa declined because the indictment lacked certain important documents.
Jiba excused Mhlotswa, who was a few months later replaced by Noko. Noko eventually withdrew charges against Panday and his co-accused police officer Navin Madhoe.
At the Mokgoro inquiry, Jiba said there was nothing unlawful about her decision in the Booysen matter.